Camp Near Falmouth, Va.
December 3d, 1862.
My dear Mother:
I hasten to write you to-day, fearful lest you should dread my being overduly oppressed by any feeling of disappointment at not receiving that promotion in my Regiment, which friends may have flattered themselves was my due. I accept the disappointment without complaint — at least now, if not at first. Its so indifferent a matter after all, what position I may fill, so long as I am found worthy to serve in any wise the interests of a beloved country. I do not believe you love or esteem the simple Captain less. Rank in our Army is of small importance at best. I know full-fledged Colonels who once sat cross-legged in a tailor's shop, and who still know a deal more about mending breeches than about soldiering. Our democratic institutions work beautifully in the Army. But I won't grumble, provided friends at home don't fall asleep while such an institution as “piping” exists. I saw Gardner Green to-day, and talked McClellan to him until the cars carried him off.
By-the-way, dear mother, I need hardly state to you that I would rather like to get out of the 79th Regiment, and not only that, but out of the Volunteer service altogether. I do not know if the thing be possible, but would like very much to get into the Regular Army. Ask Walter and Uncle Phelps if they know of any parties capable of helping me in the matter. I suppose there are plenty of parties with feelings similar to my own, so that there are twenty applicants for every vacancy. Even if I were not to retain my Commission after the close of the war, a position in the Regular Army would secure me more congenial companions for the present. Do, mother, inquire if the thing can be done.
I like “Old Abe's” emancipation plans as developed in his “Message” very much. His “Emancipation Proclamation” though, I decidedly object to, after my Beaufort experience. The “Freedmen's friends” down there used to send home very glowing accounts of their successes, but they told awful lies. That whom Lilly speaks of meeting, was a rare old chap in the way of lying. I believe in getting rid of slavery at any cost, but think Father Abraham has proposed the wisest plan I have heard of yet.
I tried to get a chance for a few days at home this month, but as usual was told there was no chance. Were I any where else I could get home occasionally on Regimental business, but I don't ask, nor expect, any favors in a Scotch Regiment. What evil star ever guided my destiny into a parcel of foreigners? I suppose Providence knows best, and now I find myself as fairly caught as Sterne's Starling with no likelier chance of getting out.
Well, success to my new fancy for the Regulars.
Love to all.
I am repeatedly informed of the great sacrifices my brother officers have made in coming out to the war, usually in the following words: “Why, that man used to be a boss-mechanic at home.” Nothing but boss-mechanics in the 79th are supposed to have either hearts or any other kind of entrails.
SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 238-40